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Monkey Town: The Summer of the Scopes Trial
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2014 Group Reads > Monkey Town, by Ronald Kidd - November's Read

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message 1: by Charmaine (new)

Charmaine (empress_charla) | 276 comments Mod
Here is the discussion topic for "Monkey Town." This book sounds really interesting! Has anyone read this one before?


QNPoohBear | 120 comments I went into this book thinking I knew everything about the case from having studied Inherit the Wind in Junior High. The English, Social Studies and Science teachers combined to have us act out the play as we studied the play, government and evolution. It is one of my only happy memories of that time. I was quite shocked and sad to discover that the play is a highly fictionalized account of what actually happened! The real story is a bit less dramatic. The author of this book had to add in some drama to make it interesting. Though it's almost 90 years later, I feel the story is very relevant - more so than when I studied it in Junior High 70 years after the fact. I can easily see this happening again and I know that the questions raised in the novel are still relevant. I really liked how the author based the story on a real life woman but made the character a young adult instead of a little girl. It made the impact of the story more realistic and relevant to teens.

Frances is a complicated character. I wanted to like her but I didn't really. I found her annoying and selfish at first and very naive and silly at times. Yet, I did like her coming-of-age plot. I could relate to some of the questions she felt and coming to terms with the fact her Daddy has feet of clay. The author portrays a teen girl very accurately. Frances grew on me as she started to question everything.

I felt bad for Johnny because he was a victim in the whole thing. I did not like Frances' father or the other men in town. I saw Frances' father as egotistical and a big dreamer. He came across as kind of slimy to me. On the other hand, I actually liked H. L. Mencken. Some of what he said was cruel but mostly he told the truth. I don't know much about him but he would be at home in today's world of tabloid journalism and snarky Twitter comments. At the same time, I liked how Frances got to know him and see a different side of him and how he made her think about the world around her.

I was hoping for more Clarence Darrow vs. William Jennings Bryan. My favorite part of the trial is when Darrow puts Bryan on the witness stand. I was surprised and sad at Darrow's feelings on the outcome of the trial.


message 3: by Charmaine (new)

Charmaine (empress_charla) | 276 comments Mod
Qnpoohbear wrote: "I went into this book thinking I knew everything about the case from having studied Inherit the Wind in Junior High. The English, Social Studies and Science teachers combined to have ..."

That's interesting, and I appreciate your input, Qnpoohbear. I didn't know that this story was based on an actual court trial. I need to read this one soon.

I agree with you that the questions raised in this novel are still relevant today. Some people still object to evolution being taught in schools.


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